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Imagine a thermodynamic system composed of a tumbler half-full of pure water, composed entirely of 1H and 16O. The system is isolated from extraneous influences by a perfect box impermeable to radiation of any kind.

When equilibrium is reached, the water exerts a [nearly] constant amount of force/pressure upon the isolating box brought upon by the vapour pressure of water which depends on the equilibrium temperature. Although molecules of water continue to evaporate even at equilibrium, equilibrium is maintained because an [almost] equal number of water molecules condense back into the liquid phase at any given time.

Except for possible decay of protons, does any quantum effect play a role in this "simple" system? Do quantum effect(s) influence the evaporation rate of water, or any liquid for that matter?

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  • $\begingroup$ I mean it is possible that quantum tunnelling contributes to the evaporation rate, but I strongly suspect that the answer is no; quantum effects are probably negligible for this system (and any possible proton decay certainly is). $\endgroup$ – By Symmetry Mar 4 at 11:14

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